Even when she was still in college, Alyssa Grandy Gale recalled being socially aware.
“Noong ako ay nasa college pa, naging aktibo na po ako sa advocacy,” she said. “Gusto ko lang pong ipaglaban ang karapatan ko bilang tao.” This continued after school, when she “saw and actually experienced na mahirap makapasok ng trabaho ang mga tulad ko – kahit may mga pinag-aralan, andoon pa rin ang tinatawag nilang diskriminasyon.”
[Even while still in college, I was already active in the advocacy. I just wanted to fight for my rights as a human being. (This continued after school, when) I saw and actually experienced the difficulties in finding employment of people like me, who, although educated, still experienced getting discriminated against]
Eventually, in 2012, when members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Bolinao, Pangasinan came together to form a group that aimed to push for LGBT rights, Alyssa Grandy Gale was voted as the founding president. The group is now called the Bolinao Gay Association (BGA).
While facing the challenges thrown her way by helming a growing group, Alyssa Grandy Gale remains steadfast in increasing LGBT presence. Among others, she helped organize the first gay congress in Bolinao, led the group’s members to be present in rendering community services, including in tree planting activities, local beautification efforts, helping in promoting local tourism, and assisting solid waste management efforts of the local government.
BGA is active in hosting beauty pageants, too. For Alyssa Grandy Gale, “hindi rin maalis sa atin ang Miss Gay beauty pageants. Sa nakikita ko rito sa amin, kapag may Miss Gay, dinadayo ng mga gays galing sa iba’t ibang lugar, kaya dito tayo nakakakilala ng mga baguhang (miyembro na ating komunidad) at nagiging kaibigan na rin natin,” she said. In her experience, “ito rin ang magandang paraan para magkaroon ng unity ang mga gays na galing sa iba’t ibang lugar.”
[We can’t rid ourselves of beauty pageants. The way I see it, when there is a Miss Gay (pageant), gays from other places flock, so this has become a venue for us to meet new members who become our friends, too. This can be a way to unite gays who come from different places]
Touching on the “pageants as spectacles” perspective, however, Alyssa Grandy Gale said that such gatherings also allow non-LGBTs to watch, since “kapag may Miss Gay pageant, marami ang nanood at natutuwa, kaya sa ganon, kahit paano’y napapasaya natin ang ating mga kababayan.”
[When there is a pageant, a lot of people watch and enjoy themselves, so (it makes us happy that) we somehow give our fellowmen reason to have fun]
Alyssa Grandy Gale thinks that LGBTs need to unite, particularly since “sa nakikita at naranasan ko, marami pa sa mga gays ang mga naiinggit sa kapwa nila gays. Dapat sa atin ay magtulungan, hindi magsiraan,” she said.
(I think a lot of gays envy other gays. We should not bicker against each other, but help each other)
While social acceptance is slowly coming [Alyssa Grandy Gale, for instance, is “natanggap na ako ng aking pamilya at natutulungan ko na rin ang aking pamilya sa pang-araw-araw naming pangangailangan (already accepted by my family, who I help in providing daily sustenance], Alyssa Grandy Gale aims to continue pushing for bigger goals.
“Gusto kong ipakita sa lahat na marami rin kaming maitutulong sa ating lipunan,” she said. With the help of LGBTs, “makakatulong tayo sa lahat ng pwedeng ikagaganda ng ating lipunan.”
(I want to show others that we can help society, too. We can help make the society better)